No matter what our age, the “Information Age” as some have called it, bombards us with new or recycled information second by second on a broad array of media devices. As a result of the fast movement of unfolding information, we tend to not recall parts and pieces and often end up with an overview that may be shaded based on our recall, our perception, or our worldview.
At present as the horizon appears to be darkening and an endless stream of information of injustice, evil, deceit, and moral decay assails us; we can be tempted to think that evil reaches its tentacles into everything. That can be and often is true, but should we despair and wring our hands when that occurs?
Perhaps we have forgotten (if we ever knew) that God can bring about good from evil. That truth echoes throughout the entire Bible.
The writer of Hebrews 13:8 (TLB) reminds us:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
His ultimate purposes and ultimate justice are always accomplished and will be as we near the hour of His return.
Modern stories rarely allow us to see evil used for good, but the Bible gives us a different view.
One of the most famous examples is that of Joseph in the book of Genesis. You probably remember this favorite youngest son of Jacob’s (then called Israel) who was always sharing about his dreams. His brothers became jealous of not only the multi-colored coat his father had given him, but of his favored position with their father as well.
When they could take it no longer, Joseph was thrown into a pit and left for dead until some slave traders came by and offered to buy him. The brothers couldn’t resist the 20 pieces of silver and soon Joseph was sold and on his way to Egypt. All sounds pretty dreadful as evil abounds, but it was there that God would work on Joseph’s character and refine his gift of dreams and their interpretation. He would bring great good from what the brothers meant for harm and evil. Joseph would be used to save the Jewish nation when famine threatened to obliterate them.
Later when the favor of the Pharaoh Joseph preserved was dead and Joseph was gone as well, the Egyptians held this same Jewish nation in slavery. Nearly 200 years had passed and when all the male children of Israel were doomed to destruction through an abundance of evil, Moses was saved and later God plundered the Egyptians to provide for this beaten down people and lead them into a Promised Land.
The Promised Land was not so easy to claim due to the lack of faith and the power of the enemies before Israel. Jericho appeared impenetrable, but a harlot named Rahab hid the spies sent to scout out the land and the result was a great victory when the walls of Jericho fell without a single arrow coming against it as the children of Israel marched around the city walls.
Time and again the Bible shares stories with us that should remind us that God uses evil for ultimate good.
I also don’t think we need be undone by the legal maxim: “justice delayed is justice denied.” Everything that happens on, above, or under the earth will be brought to ultimate justice.
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk complained to God about the sins of immorality, lawlessness, and idolatry all around him. Then God spoke to him and let him know that it would be the evil enemy nation of Babylon that would be used to bring justice to the evildoers of Judah that Habakkuk was lamenting.
The believers in Jesus when He walked the earth were nearly upended. It appeared evil triumphed when the Savior they believed was there to be crowned king was brutally murdered on a Roman cross at the hands of the Pharisees and a traitor (Judas) who was among the first disciples chosen by Jesus. But it was this evil that brought about the ultimate good of eternal salvation.
As shadows deepen and unthinkable evil seems to increase, our challenge is to remember the Lord is not only a God of love, grace, and mercy, but He is also a God of righteousness and justice.
Remember Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 (NLT):
“ For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Luke would also remind us of where our focus should be:
“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28 (NASB)
What is that redemption?
His return for those who believe in Him.